Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

 

Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

HELCOM publishes reports on chemical contaminants

In a bid to better understand the effects of certain hazardous substances on the Baltic Sea, HELCOM, in collaboration with Stockholm University’s Baltic Sea Centre, has compiled the latest science on selected chemical contaminants.

The results were published in four reports, namely on dioxins and PCBsbrominated flame retardantsPFOS and PFAS, and diclofenac.

“We must identify the major sources of the hazardous substances and understand how they move in the ecosystems to be able to do something about the problem,” said Emma Undeman, a researcher at Stockholm University and lead author of the reports. 

The reports give insights into the sources and pathways to the sea of the addressed substances, as well as on how their concentrations have changed in the Baltic Sea over time.

Dioxins and PCBs, mainly by-products from industrial processes, primarily stem from atmospheric emissions, further persisting in the environment and accumulating in the food chain. This is a particular cause for concern since these substances are known for their adverse effects on the nervous, immune and endocrine systems of living organisms.

The levels of brominated flame retardants (PBDE) – which are now either banned or regulated but were heavily used in the past as additives to prevent ignition and delay spread of fire such as in furniture and curtains – seem to be declining, but trends show that it could take up to 40 years for these contaminants to reach safe levels in the Baltic Sea.

With regard to PFOS and PFAS, used for instance in metal coatings such as Teflon or in firefighting foams, the main pathways are discharges from wastewater treatment plants, and runoff from contaminated sites via groundwater and drainage ditches. Research on PFOS in Baltic Sea biota further indicates that transport to the sea has dropped but that concentrations have not yet declined, pointing towards a high persistence in the marine environment.

Diclofenac, a widely used painkiller that is water soluble, mainly enters the sea through wastewater treatment plants which have a low removal rate of the drug. Despite good absorption by the human body when ingested, diclofenac is overused, leading to significant excretions reaching sewer systems. Some of the diclofenac in wastewater may also originate from dermal application which has a low absorption rate by the body. 

The four reports support the update of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), HELCOM’s strategic programme of actions for restoring good ecological status of the Baltic marine environment. The BSAP is due to be updated in 2021.

Information from the reports will notably serve to evaluate the efficiency of currently implemented measures under the present BSAP, and for suggesting additional measures needed to improve the Baltic Sea’s state in regard to the reduction of concentrations of hazardous substances. 

Download the reports:

HELCOM publishes reports on hazardous substances and input of nutrients to the Baltic Sea through the region biggest rivers

​HELCOM recently published two reports on hazardous substances and inputs of nutrients through the seven biggest rivers in the Baltic Sea region. The reports show the results from the  project that carries out pollution load assessment of the Baltic Sea from waterborne, diffuse and natural sources.”Both reports provide valuable information for assessing progress in reaching the HELCOM  (BSAP) reduction targets for hazardous substances and nutrients,” said Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky, the HELCOM Professional Secretary handling matters related to hazardous substances and nutrient inputs. The first report, , presents the findings on heavy metals cadmium, mercury and lead, as well as atmospheric deposition of selected organic pollutants, pharmaceutical residues, and persistent organic pollutants – chemicals that can’t biodegrade or take a long time to do so.According to the report, the inputs of heavy metals and organic pollutants are on the decline overall. On the other hand, pharmaceuticals and persistent organic pollutants are already causing apprehension, despite having been added only recently to the assessment.  released to the Baltic Sea through wastewater treatment could amount to 1800 tonnes per year. Some of these residues have already been detected in various compounds of the Baltic Sea ecosystem.Nonylphenols, octylphenols and PFOS – persistent organic pollutants which are mainly used for treating metals and textile products, and as flame retardants – were particularly identified as of high concern by the HELCOM countries. Some of these chemicals can disrupt the hormonal balance in living organisms. The second report published by HELCOM, , highlights the inputs of nitrogen and phosphorous to the sea from the Daugava, Gota, Nemunas, Neva, Oder, Tornio and Vistula. These rivers cover about half of the Baltic Sea catchment area. 55 million people inhabit this region, leading to high man-made, or anthropogenic, pressure. The nutrient loads are highest in the southern catchments, where population is densest and agricultural activity is intense.  According to , the riverine inputs of total nitrogen and total phosphorus contribute about 80 percent and over 90 percent to the total input of these nutrients respectively. The report emphasizes the importance of measures in upstream parts of river basins, including transboundary parts, to reduce nutrient loads and achieve the environmental targets set by the .Over-supply of nitrogen and phosphorous remains the lead cause for  and the growth of algae in the Baltic Sea.Download the reports: (.pdf) (.pdf)

HELCOM recently published two reports on hazardous substances and inputs of nutrients through the seven biggest rivers in the Baltic Sea region. The reports show the results from the HELCOM Pollution Load Compilation (PLC) project.

HELCOM progresses firmly towards reducing input of pollutants into the Baltic Sea, but more work lies ahead

The HELCOM PRESSURE group met in Berlin to discuss the reduction of pollution loads on the Baltic Sea.Specific attention was placed on river basins, input of nutrients, and hazardous substances.The progress at the Krasni Bor HELCOM hot spot was also addressed.HELCOM came closer to its goals of reducing pollution loads on the Baltic Sea, as acknowledged during a key event held in Berlin from 18 to 20 April 2018, the Eighth Meeting of the HELCOM Working Group on Reduction of Pressures from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area (). The PRESSURE group is responsible for devising solutions to reduce land-based pollution affecting the Baltic Sea.The group discussed potential measures to advance towards the maximum allowable inputs set by the . Specific attention was paid to the cooperation with river basin management authorities and to possible ways of elaborating nutrient reduction targets for river basins. These will be useful for developing river basin management plans. It is expected that this broader approach at the river basin level will increase the readiness of upstream municipalities to support the implementation of the (BSAP).Due to the cross-cutting nature of nutrients management, and bearing in mind that the agricultural sector is a main source of land-based nutrient input to the Baltic Sea, the PRESSURE group also worked out a proposal for close cooperation with , the HELCOM group responsible for agricultural matters.With regard to the implementation of the , the central emphasis was placed on the planning of a regional strategy for nutrients recycling. The PRESSURE group also started planning the implementation of the new commitment, with the aim to develop a risk assessment framework for the management of internal nutrient reserves.Furthermore, PRESSURE 8-2018 addressed the input of hazardous substances (HS) into the Baltic Sea, acknowledging the steady decrease of inputs of conventional pollutants such as mercury, lead and cadmium. However, it also noted the worrying rise of new HS such as pharmaceuticals and persistent organic compounds. The group endorsed a draft assessment for the input of selected hazardous substances as well as for a new HELCOM pre-core indicator on diclofenac. In addition, participants considered to look into off-shore sources of pollutants and, as a first step, into the potential adverse effects of anti-fouling systems. They also followed up of the implementation of the Regional Action Plan (RAP) on marine litter. Dredging and depositing operations at sea, under water noise and other topics were also discussed. One specific theme of the meeting was the current state of the toxic landfill Krasny Bor located in the vicinity of St. Petersburg, Russia. Participants welcomed the comprehensive update by Russia on the current status of this “HELCOM hot spot”, including the work undertaken so far to minimize environmental risks and to monitor the site. The results of international cooperation and support on Krasni Bor were presented by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) which is the coordinator of the international efforts currently taking place at the site.A group of German experts also presented the results of the verification of the environmental monitoring system at the landfill. In the past two years, international experts have continuously visited the site, doing environmental sampling and inspecting the maintenance and monitoring procedures.The meeting in Berlin was the first consultation of the group after the adoption of the earlier this year in Brussels, where HELCOM countries notably renewed their commitment to the BSAP.

HELCOM came closer to its goals of reducing pollution loads on the Baltic Sea, as acknowledged during a key event held in Berlin from 18 to 20 April 2018.

HELCOM agreement reached on next steps for a healthy Baltic Sea

​With three years remaining to reach the original deadline for a healthy Baltic Sea in 2021, the Ministers of the Environment and High-Level Representatives of the nine Baltic coastal countries and the European Union, meeting today in Brussels, Belgium, have agreed on new commitments for the Baltic marine environment. The ocean-related UN Sustainable Development Goals form a framework for the commitments.After intensive discussions, the Baltic Sea community today decided on renewed efforts for a healthy marine environment. Convening at the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, the responsible Ministers, the EU Commissioner, and other high-level representatives reached an agreement that includes an update of the Baltic Sea Action Plan, intensified efforts to reach the goals of the existing Plan, and a regional strategy for nutrient recycling.High-level representatives at the 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting, from left: Jānis Eglīts (Vice Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Latvia), Camilla Gunell (Deputy Head of Government and Environmental Minister, Government of Åland), Karmenu Vella (Commissioner for the Environment, European Commission), Kęstutis Navickas (Minister of Environment, Lithuania), Barbara Hendricks (Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany), Siim Kiisler (Minister of the Environment, Estonia), Kimmo Tiilikainen (Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Finland), Nuritdin Inamov (Director of the Department for International Cooperation and Board member of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Russia), Anna Moskwa (Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, Poland), Esben Lunde Larsen (Minister for Environment and Food, Denmark), Marianne Wenning (Chair, HELCOM), Monika Stankiewicz (Executive Secreatary, HELCOM), Karolina Skog (Minister for the Environment, Sweden).Updated roadmap to a restored marine environmentThe Ministerial Meeting today agreed to update the (BSAP) – the concrete roadmap for restoring the ecological balance of the Baltic Sea – by 2021. The updated BSAP will include new measures that are needed to achieve the existing goals: a Baltic Sea unaffected by eutrophication, a Baltic Sea with life undisturbed by hazardous substances, maritime activities carried out in an environmentally friendly way, and favourable conservation status of the Baltic Sea biodiversity. Recognizing that some actions agreed upon in the original BSAP are yet to be completed, the Meeting also decided on renewed efforts to fulfil the existing BSAP by 2021. Particular focus will be put on addressing those pressures that the report identified as most widely-distributed and harmful, including excess nutrients, contamination, underwater noise, invasive alien species, excessive extraction of fish, and physical disturbance of the seabed. Among other things, the Meeting decided to elaborate regional and national actions to limit the impacts of underwater noise on sensitive marine species.In a significant move towards curbing eutrophication, the Meeting participants committed to developing a Baltic-wide nutrient recycling strategy by 2020, aiming for reduced nutrient inputs to the Baltic Sea and for more efficient use of nutrients. The regional policy will support countries in creating a sustainable and environmentally safe scheme for recycling nutrients in agriculture and from sewage sludge.”HELCOM is a true example of successful regional ocean governance,” states Mr Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment. “The Baltic Sea Region is leading the way with marine protected areas now covering more than 12% of the Sea. It has been designated as Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) Emissions Control Area. But we need to step up efforts to address other challenges such as eutrophication, marine litter and underwater noise. The Declaration adopted under EU Presidency by the HELCOM Ministers confirms the commitment by its members to work together to achieve a healthy Baltic Sea.”  HELCOM to coordinate the workA common thread to the decisions made at the Meeting were the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations Agenda 2030. The countries around the Baltic Sea have previously agreed to use HELCOM as the regional arena for coordinating work on those SDGs that relate to marine and water issues. The Meeting agreed that the SDGs will be used as a framework when updating the BSAP. The Meeting participants also higlighted the cooperation within HELCOM as a good example that has much to give to other regional seas in the world.The outcome of the Meeting – the Ministerial Declaration – forms the concrete framework for the following years’ work for a healthier Baltic Sea. The work will take place within the long tradition of regional HELCOM cooperation, based on best available expertise, and involving all countries and the EU and various sector ministries within countries.The Ministerial Meeting was chaired by HELCOM Chair Ms Marianne Wenning. Representing HELCOM members were Mr Karmenu Vella (Commissioner for the Environment, European Commission), Mr Esben Lunde Larsen (Minister for Environment and Food, Denmark), Mr Siim Kiisler (Minister of the Environment, Estonia), Mr Kimmo Tiilikainen (Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Finland), Dr Barbara Hendricks (Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany), Mr Kęstutis Navickas (Minister of Environment, Lithuania), Ms Karolina Skog (Minister for the Environment, Sweden), Mr Jānis Eglīts (Vice Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Latvia), Ms Anna Moskwa (Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, Poland), and Mr Nuritdin Inamov (Director of the Department for International Cooperation and Board member of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Russia).The entire Ministerial Declaration is available online at: Twitter hashtag: * * *More information (PDF) (first version 2017 – to be updated 2018)Note for editorsThe 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting will be held on 6 March in Brussels, Belgium, under the EU chairmanship of HELCOM. The Ministers of the Environment of the nine Baltic coastal states and the EU Environment Commissioner will gather to discuss the status and the future of the Baltic Sea marine environment. The outcome of the 2018 Ministerial Meeting is expected to revolve around new actions to meet the Sustainable Development Goals in the Baltic Sea, strengthening implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan by 2021, and adjusting the Baltic Sea Action Plan based on new knowledge and future challenges. More information on the .The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. HELCOM has worked since 1974 to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. HELCOM is the governing body of the “Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area,” more usually known as the Helsinki Convention.For further information, please contact:Ms Monika Stankiewicz Executive Secretary HELCOM +358 40 840 2471 monika.stankiewicz(at)helcom.fiMs Sara Estlander Communication Coordinator HELCOM +358 40 482 6103 sara.estlander(at)helcom.fi

The Ministers of the Environment and High-Level Representatives of the nine Baltic coastal countries and the European Union, meeting today in Brussels, Belgium, have agreed on new commitments for the Baltic marine environment.

Baltic Sea community to decide on renewed efforts for a healthy Baltic Sea

 Today, at the 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, the Baltic Sea countries and the EU come together to decide on renewed efforts to reach a healthy Baltic marine environment. HELCOM – the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – is the arena in which the nine Baltic coastal states and the European Union work together to protect and restore the marine environment of the Baltic Sea. At the today, the responsible Ministers, the EU Commissioner, and other high-level representatives meet to assess the progress made towards reaching a good environmental status in the Baltic Sea. The outcome – the Ministerial Declaration – will form the framework for the following years’ work for a healthier Baltic Sea, following the long tradition of regional HELCOM cooperation.New information to guide new actionsThe recent shows that in spite of some positive signals, the efforts so far have not led to the recovery of the Baltic Sea. This is the first time that a comprehensive assessment of ecosystem health on this scale, based on a wide range of indicators and information on human activities and their impacts, is available as background information for a HELCOM Ministerial Meeting. “Thanks to thorough groundwork, we now understand better than before how the different pressures add up on specific areas, species and habitats in the Baltic Sea,” says HELCOM Chair Ms Marianne Wenning. “Because of this, we know more about what’s important to consider with regard to managing human activities. In this way informed choices can be made in order to reduce environmental pressures.”One reason that the Baltic marine environment has not yet recovered is the long delay between cause and effect, due to the natural features of the Baltic Sea. Further, some actions agreed upon in the (BSAP) from 2007 – the concrete roadmap for restoring the ecological balance of the Baltic Sea – are yet to be completed. In addition, some aspects of the environment have so far not been addressed in Baltic-wide plans and policies.Stepping up and raising the barIn light of this new information, an important part of the Ministerial Meeting today will be to decide both on stronger follow-through on the existing BSAP and on a blueprint and timeframe for updating the BSAP. The current Baltic Sea Action Plan aims for a healthy Baltic Sea by 2021, and rests on actions aimed at eutrophication, hazardous substances, biodiversity, and maritime activities. In the discussions leading up to the Ministerial Meeting, marine litter, underwater noise, and seabed damage and disturbance have been raised as possible additional issues for countries to follow up on more strongly, striving to limit adverse effects by increasing efforts and coordination at regional level. At the Meeting, the high-level representatives will decide on the next steps for these themes: e.g., whether action plans will be developed, whether indicators will be developed to measure these issues, and so on. The Meeting is also expected to follow up on the existing Regional Action Plan for marine litter. The high-level representatives at the Meeting are also set to finalize discussions on a possible future HELCOM strategy regarding nutrient recycling in the Baltic Sea area. This has been one of the goals of the EU chairmanship of HELCOM, as part of the target of promoting sustainable agricultural practices. Nutrient recycling is essential for reducing nutrient losses to the Baltic Sea and for efficiently using the limited nutrient resources.Meeting global goalsA common thread to the themes of the Meeting are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations Agenda 2030. The countries around the Baltic Sea have agreed to use HELCOM as the regional arena for coordinating work on those SDGs that relate to marine and water issues. The Meeting follows up on the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York in June 2017, where HELCOM made several towards SDG 14 – “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”.”The marine environment is threatened in many parts of the world’s oceans and the problems are often of a global nature,” says Ms Wenning. “Many of the UN SDGs are related to the state of seas and oceans so our work can serve as an important contribution to many of the SDGs goals.”The Ministerial Meeting will be chaired by HELCOM Chair Marianne Wenning of the EU. Expected to participate on behalf of HELCOM members are Mr Karmenu Vella (Commissioner for the Environment, European Commission), Mr Esben Lunde Larsen (Minister for Environment and Food, Denmark), Mr Siim Kiisler (Minister of the Environment, Estonia), Mr Kimmo Tiilikainen (Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Finland), Dr Barbara Hendricks (Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany), Mr Kęstutis Navickas (Minister of Environment, Lithuania), Ms Karolina Skog (Minister for the Environment, Sweden), Mr Jānis Eglīts (Vice Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Latvia), Ms Anna Moskwa (Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, Poland), and Mr Nuritdin Inamov (Director of the Department for International Cooperation and Board member of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Russia).The entire Ministerial Declaration will be available online after the meeting at: Twitter hashtag:  * * *More informationReport (PDF, 2 MB) (first version 2017 – to be updated 2018), June 2017, New York NOTE FOR EDITORSThe will be held on 6 March in Brussels, Belgium, under the EU chairmanship of HELCOM. The Ministers of the Environment of the nine Baltic coastal states and the EU Environment Commissioner will gather to discuss the status and the future of the Baltic Sea marine environment. The outcome of the 2018 Ministerial Meeting is expected to revolve around new actions to meet the Sustainable Development Goals in the Baltic Sea, strengthening implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan by 2021, and adjusting the Baltic Sea Action Plan based on new knowledge and future challenges. The background to the Meeting is provided by two major reports: (PDF) and (first version 2017 – to be updated 2018).The , usually referred to as HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. HELCOM has worked since 1974 to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. HELCOM is the governing body of the “Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area,” more usually known as the Helsinki Convention.FOR FURTHER information, PLEASE CONTACT:Ms Monika Stankiewicz Executive Secretary HELCOM +358 40 840 2471 monika.stankiewicz(at)helcom.fiMs Sara Estlander Communication Coordinator HELCOM +358 40 482 6103 sara.estlander(at)helcom.fi

Today, at the 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, the Baltic Sea countries and the EU come together to decide on renewed efforts to reach a healthy Baltic marine environment.

Major Baltic Sea policies reviewed ahead of HELCOM Ministerial Meeting

Regional ministers will discuss the state and future of the Baltic Sea marine environment in MarchHeads of Delegation of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission meet this week to prepare ministerial outcomeHow will the Baltic Sea region respond to the call to action for the marine environment, set by the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development? What efforts should be prioritized in order to achieve the aim of the – a healthy Baltic Sea by 2021? How should the Action Plan be adjusted based on the newest scientific knowledge and the challenges ahead? These are among the questions on the table at the 53rd HELCOM Heads of Delegation meeting today and tomorrow. The questions form the basis of the negotiations ahead of the in Brussels on 6 March, bringing together the responsible ministers from the Baltic Sea countries and the EU Commissioner for Environment. The Heads of Delegation meeting this week will focus in particular on the Declaration to be adopted at the Ministerial Meeting, which will frame the work for the Baltic Sea marine environment in the years to come.Targets: Baltic Sea Action Plan and Sustainable Development GoalsAmong the central background information for the discussions is a report following up on the actions agreed upon in the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) in 2007 and linking them to the current state of the Baltic Sea. According to the latest assessments, much has been accomplished, and there are some encouraging signals in the ecosystem, but the efforts so far have not led to the recovery of the Baltic Sea. The Heads of Delegation will discuss how to achieve stronger follow-through on the BSAP in order to reach the common goals.The Heads of Delegation will also consider how to adjust the BSAP in the light of new information. As science advances, policy-makers are better equipped than before to focus on those issues that cause the greatest harm and are the most widely distributed. There is also more and more knowledge about climate change and other issues that are developing or will emerge in the future. The adjusted plan for action will take into account the changing situation and highlight the most important measures to take. The questions about the BSAP are also central to the global context of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015. Governments have the primary responsibility for taking action to achieve the goals, while Regional Sea Conventions like HELCOM are well suited for considering new actions across borders in pursuit of those SDGs that relate to marine and water issues. The Baltic Sea countries have agreed to use HELCOM as the regional arena for coordinating work on ocean-related SDGs. In order to reach SDG 14 – “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources” – the Baltic Sea region needs both to accelerate work towards the goals of the Baltic Sea Action Plan and to adapt the plan based on the newest and best available science. HELCOM will use the Sustainable Development Goals as guidance when setting new priorities and targets. Preparing for the Ministerial MeetingThe outcome of the discussions between the Heads of Delegation will be an important stepping stone towards reaching Ministerial agreement. The meeting this week aims to put everything in place for the Ministerial negotiations in March.Preparations for the Ministerial Meeting have been ongoing since the meeting of high-level representatives of the Baltic Sea states and the EU in February 2017. However, the background efforts and the scientific data that underpin the discussions stretch back over several years and includes a multitude of projects. Among these are the large-scale , which will be finalized by mid-2018.  “The background work for the Ministerial Meeting draws together all the different roles and processes of HELCOM: it is a hub that provides information about the Baltic Sea environment, that produces recommendations and policies based on this information in order to improve the state of the ecosystem, and that supervises that agreements are upheld. HELCOM is the bridge between science and policy in the Baltic Sea, and the Ministerial Meeting is the highest point on that bridge,” says Monika Stankiewicz, Executive Secretary at the HELCOM Secretariat.All the meeting documents will be available in the HELCOM Meeting portal after the meeting, no login required:  * * *Note for editors:The 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting will be held on 6 March in Brussels, Belgium, under the EU chairmanship of HELCOM. The Ministers of the Environment of the nine Baltic coastal states and the EU Environment Commissioner will gather to discuss the status and the future of the Baltic Sea marine environment. The outcome of the 2018 Ministerial Meeting is expected to revolve around new actions to meet the Sustainable Development Goals in the Baltic Sea, strengthening implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan by 2021, and adjusting the Baltic Sea Action Plan based on new knowledge and future challenges. More information on the .The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. HELCOM has worked since 1974 to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. HELCOM is the governing body of the “Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area,” more usually known as the Helsinki Convention.* * *For further information, please contact:Monika Stankiewicz Executive Secretary HELCOM monika.stankiewicz(at)helcom.fiSara Estlander Communication Coordinator HELCOM +358 40 482 6103 sara.estlander(at)helcom.fi

Regional ministers will discuss the state and future of the Baltic Sea marine environment in March – Heads of Delegation of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission meet this week to prepare ministerial outcome

HELCOM to test first pharmaceutical indicator and focus on improving the Marine Protected Area network

The HELCOM State & Conservation group meeting endorses the first HELCOM pharmaceutical indicator for testingImproving the effectiveness of the network of important marine areas in the Baltic Sea tied to global processes and management of human activitiesThe Seventh Meeting of the HELCOM (STATE & CONSERVATION 7-2017) took place in Sopot, Poland 23–27 October. The Working Group is set up to thake a two-pronged approach, linking topics related to monitoring with biodiversity and conservation issues. The key theme of the meeting was the continuing work to update and further improve the holistic . The initial version of the report was published in June 2017 and gives a comprehensive overview of the health of the Baltic Sea, ranging from physical to biological to social and economic aspects. Most of the assessment results in the report are based on indicators, and the meeting agenda included a draft for a new indicator on the drug diclofenac – the first HELCOM indicator for pharmaceuticals. The meeting endorsed the use of this indicator as a pre-core test indicator, meaning it will be included in the updated report using a descriptive approach, as opposed to a quantitative approach based on decided threshold values. The final version of the report, including final results based on 2011–2016 data, will be released in June 2018.Another step forward was the agreement to focus efforts on further improving the HELCOM Marine Protected Area (MPA) network, specifically the necessity for updating the guidance provided by HELCOM on how MPAs are to be designated and managed. Clearer guidelines are needed in order to better link the MPA network to the planning of human activities at sea (often referred to as Marine Spatial Planning) and to current international commitments, as well as to ensure that the network lives up to its full potential.  Current network of HELCOM Marine Protected AreasParallel to the continued work to improve the effectiveness of the MPA network, the work on marine spatial planning and MPAs will take another major step forward, both in a regional and a global context, at a high-level workshop aimed at describing Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs). EBSAs are special areas in the ocean that serve important purposes to support the healthy functioning and the many services that the sea provides (for more background information, see ). The designation of EBSAs in the Baltic Sea is an important step in linking the region to the global network of areas already identified under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD). The workshop will take place in Helsinki on 19 to 24 February 2018, hosted by Finland and convened by the Secretariat of the UN CBD in cooperation with HELCOM.The meeting also updated HELCOM Recommendation 19/3 on ‘The Manual for the Marine Monitoring in the Combine Programme of HELCOM’ and HELCOM Recommendation 24/10 ‘Implementation of Integrated Marine and Coastal Management of Human Activities in the Baltic Sea Area’, both of which will be submitted to HELCOM Heads of Delegation 53-2017 in December for a decision.. All documents will be public after the meeting.* * *Note for editorsThe Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. Since 1974, HELCOM has been the governing body of the ‘Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area’, more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention.HELCOM covers the monitoring and assessment functions as well as nature conservation and biodiversity protection in HELCOM. The group works across the monitoring-indicators-assessment chain for the coordinated development of HELCOM thematic assessment tools, as well as for a coherent holistic assessment of the ecosystems health.* * * For more information, please contact:Jannica Haldin Professional Secretary HELCOM Tel. +358 40 485 5905 E-mail: jannica.haldin(at)helcom.fi ​

HELCOM State & Conservation group meeting endorses the first HELCOM pharmaceutical indicator for testing – Improving the effectiveness of the network of important marine areas in the Baltic Sea tied to global processes and management of human activities

Pollution sources, measures, and targets in the spotlight at HELCOM Pressure Group meeting

HELCOM PRESSURE 7-2017 Meeting 24–26 Oct to focus on 6th Pollution Load Compilation assessmentsThe Meeting includes workshops on nutrient input reduction targets, marine litter action plan, and sewage sludge handlingThe seventh meeting of the HELCOM Pressure group will start on 24 October in Vilnius, Lithuania. The highlight of the Meeting is the presentation of new products of the Sixth HELCOM Project on Pollution Load Compilation (PLC-6). These products include an evaluation of nutrient inputs from the major sources and their contribution to the total load on the Baltic Sea; an assessment of the effectiveness of measures to reduce the input; and an evaluation of how far the work to reduce nutrient input has come towards the targets set by HELCOM.Marking that almost two years has passed since HELCOM adopted its regional action plan on marine litter, the group will evaluate the progress made so far on combatting marine litter, as well as suggest next steps. The group will also consider suggestions to revise a number of HELCOM Recommendations and to develop a new Recommendation on littering of the marine environmentAlongside the main HELCOM meeting, three workshops are arranged, each on one key point of the meeting agenda: assessment of progress towards nutrient input reduction targets, implementation of the regional action plan on marine litter, and sewage sludge handling practices. The workshops will give experts an additional opportunity to discuss these matters in more detail and to provide support for the decisions to be made by the group.Promotion of nutrient recycling is one of the HELCOM ministerial commitments. The group will discuss obstacles and drivers of cost-efficient and environmentally friendly recycling of nutrients, as well as what tools could be developed in the Baltic Sea region to support nutrient recycling, considering especially the major nutrient flows coming from agriculture and waste water. The Chair of the HELCOM Agri group will take part in the discussion, in order to ensure cooperation across sectors.Moreover, the Meeting agenda includes several items on hazardous substances – in particular, the new HELCOM indicator on diclofenac, which is the first product of the freshly established HELCOM expert group on pharmaceuticals, as well as pollution by perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFAS) and other substances. The Group will also take stock of how the HELCOM Recommendations concerning land-based sources of pollution has been implemented so far* * *Note for editorsHELCOM is an intergovernmental organization made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974, its primary aims as a governing body are to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, as well as to ensure safe maritime navigation. The official name of HELCOM is the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission; it is the governing body of the Helsinki ConventionThe Working Group on Reduction of Pressures from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area – – focuses on nutrient and hazardous substance inputs from diffuse sources and point sources on land, including the follow-up of the implementation of the HELCOM nutrient reduction scheme. The group ensures the necessary technical underpinning as well as develops solutions to the policy-relevant questions and needs. Marine litter and underwater noise are also coordinated by this group* * *For more information, please contact:Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky Professional Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 630 9933 Skype: helcom68 E-mail: dmitry.frank-kamenetsky(at)helcom.f  ​

HELCOM PRESSURE 7-2017 Meeting 24–26 Oct to focus on 6th Pollution Load Compilation assessments. The Meeting includes workshops on nutrient input reduction targets, marine litter action plan, and sewage sludge handling.

Pharmaceuticals in Baltic waters – new status report by UNESCO and HELCOM

The report summarizes the occurrence, concentrations and pathways of pharmaceuticals into the environment in the Baltic Sea regionTonnes of pharmaceuticals enter freshwater and marine environments yearly, mainly through municipal waste water treatmentNew HELCOM expert group to support policy-making and dialogue on pharmaceuticals in Baltic watersA has been recently published by UNESCO and HELCOM. The report was developed jointly by the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (Helsinki Commission, HELCOM) and Policy Area Hazards of the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR). It serves as a case study within the framework of UNESCO Series under UNESCO-IHP’s International Initiative on Water Quality (IIWQ) Project on ‘Emerging Pollutants in Wastewater Reuse in Developing Countries’Photo credit: through Creative Commons. Cropped from original.Out of the eight therapeutic groups included in the report, the available data indicate that the most frequently measured substances in the Baltic Sea marine environment belong to the groups of anti-inflammatory and analgesics, cardiovascular agents, and central nervous system agents. Ninety-one percent of the measured pharmaceuticals were detected in Municipal Waste Water Treatment Plants (MWWTPs), 52% in freshwater and 44% in marine environment.The main pathway of pharmaceuticals into the freshwater and marine environments, according to the collected data, is via the discharges of MWWTPs effluents. Only nine out of 118 assessed pharmaceuticals were removed from wastewater during the treatment processes with an efficiency over 95%, and nearly half of the compounds were removed with an efficiency of less than 50%. Sixteen compounds were found in higher concentrations in effluents from MWWTP than in influentsThe report includes data on 167 pharmaceutical substances sampled in the marine environment, 111 in surface freshwater systems, and 156 pharmaceutical substances and 2 metabolites in influents, effluents and sludge from municipal wastewater treatment plants. Data were reported by Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Poland, Russia (St. Petersburg), and Sweden. The data presented in the report cover the period 2003–2014 and include 47,600 individual samples on pharmaceuticals in MWWTPs and freshwater as well as 4,600 individual samples in the coastal, open sea and transitional areas of the Baltic Sea marine environmentIn order to follow up the findings of the Status report, HELCOM decided to establish an expert group () to provide scientific background for the regional environmental policy regarding pharmaceuticals in the environment and to serve as a platform for regional dialogue for various environmental issues related to pharmaceuticals.The HELCOM group will cooperate with the , launched by Policy Area Hazards of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The cooperation platform is intended to support the implementation of projects and other activities aiming to reduce the emission of pharmaceuticals to the Baltic environment, as well as to support regional policy development and stakeholder cooperationThe case study was funded by UNESCO, HELCOM and PA Hazards.* * * Note for editorsThe Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. Since 1974, HELCOM has been the governing body of the ‘Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area’, more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention.

HELCOM’s focuses on nutrient
and hazardous substance inputs from diffuse sources and point sources on land,
including the follow-up of HELCOM nutrient reduction scheme implementation. The
group ensures the necessary technical underpinning and develops solutions for policy-relevant
questions and needs. Marine litter and underwater noise are also coordinated by
this group. Its official name is the Working Group on Reduction of Pressures
from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area.For more information, please contact:

Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky Professional Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 630 9933 Skype: helcom68 E-mail: dmitry.frank-kamenetsky(at)helcom.fi

The report summarizes the occurrence, concentrations and pathways of pharmaceuticals into the environment in the Baltic Sea region.

First version of the HELCOM ‘State of the Baltic Sea’ report is now available

​The comprehensive HELCOM overview of the state of the Baltic Sea follows up on the status of the Baltic Sea environment, saying that management is improving but that the environmental objectives of the Baltic Sea Action Plan will not be reached in time.The ‘State of the Baltic Sea’ assessment, now made available as a first version for consideration, is an outcome of a large scale collaboration among Baltic Sea countries. It provides a scientific evaluation of the environmental status of the Baltic Sea during 2011-2015, and assesses pressures and impacts from human activities, as well as social and economic dimensions, in the entire Baltic Sea.The summary report, and its underlying material, can be accessed via its . The next step will be to subject it to a regional consultation carried out by HELCOM. The final report will be published by June 2018, and will include one additional year of monitoring data.The assessment is based on an extensive set of materials, including the HELCOM core indicators and Baltic-wide maps, covering aspects such as eutrophication, contamination, marine litter, underwater noise, fishing, hunting, and effects of habitat loss. The assessment of benthic and pelagic habitats, fish, marine mammals, and birds indicate that biodiversity status is inadequate for most assessed species, and that continued efforts to support biodiversity are of key importance.The results are made available for use in analysing progress in relation to the goals of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, namely: to achieve a good environmental status in the Baltic Sea. They will also provide background for negotiations in the next HELCOM Ministerial Meeting to take place on 6 March 2018 in Brussels under the European Union chairmanship of HELCOM.Additionally, the assessment results are available for national consultation in EU Member states, forming a regional umbrella report for reporting under the EU Marine Strategy Framework directive. The assessment can also provide a baseline for future work to reach UN Sustainable Development Goals.The ‘State of the Baltic Sea’ is a regionally coordinated assessment and a major undertaking of all Baltic Sea countries as well as the European Union. The results are the outcome of the committed work of HELCOM experts and national representatives, whom have developed and worked to improve a regionally agreed on monitoring and assessment system, used as a shared knowledge base for developing Baltic Sea environmental management.The results and materials underlying the assessment can be accessed at .* * *Note for editors:The State of the Baltic Sea assessment is carried out by the  (2014–18). The project develops common concepts and methods for the status assessment based on core indicators, creates and tests the tools for aggregated results, and performs assessments at a regional scale. The development of the assessment methods is supported by other projects, including a number of EU-co-financed projects.HELCOM is an intergovernmental organization made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974, its primary aims as a governing body are to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, as well as to ensure safe maritime navigation. The official name of HELCOM is the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission; it is the governing body of the .HELCOM Heads of Delegation, nominated by the Contracting Parties to the Helsinki Convention, which are the nine Baltic coastal states as well as the EU, usually meet twice a year. The highest decision-making body of HELCOM, the Annual Meeting, convenes usually in March. Approximately every three years the Commission meets at .* * *For more information, please contact:Lena BergströmHOLAS II Project CoordinatorHELCOME-mail: lena.bergstrom(at)helcom.fiTel: +358 40 080 3428Jannica HaldinProfessional Secretary for Gear and State and Conservation groupsHELCOME-mail: jannica.haldin(at)helcom.fiTel: +358 40 485 5905​​

The comprehensive HELCOM overview of the state of the Baltic Sea follows up on the status of the Baltic Sea environment, saying that management is improving but that the environmental objectives of the Baltic Sea Action Plan will not be reached in time.